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368. The Vanished

The "Evaporated People" of Japan in Stories and Photographs

So, Yi-hyeon 기자2017.11.16 21:51:10

Have you ever thought of disappearing somewhere? You might have wanted to start a completely new life at least once, by erasing the past. However, will it really solve the problem? What would happen if someone around you disappeared overnight? It is not simple to vanish because of reasons such as fear and the people around you. However, despite the many reasons, there are people who disappear by themselves. This book is about their story, written from the viewpoint of a French couple.

In Japan, thousands of people became Johatsu — “evaporated people” — because of stigmas of debt, job loss, marital infidelity, and fear of failing to meet others’ expectations. The number increased rapidly in the 1990s, which was called the ‘Lost Decade’. Johatsu move secretly in the middle of night, and there are even professional companies that help them. They hide in urban ghettos, including Sanya in Tokyo, where the Japanese government has removed the geographical name from the map because of a social atmosphere against such evaporation. They do not use their original identity, and live a meaningless hand-to-mouth existence.

Their choice reflects the social atmosphere. One of the reasons of their disappearance in this book was judgement from others. The social attitude that does not tolerate failures and considers difference as being wrong influenced their extreme choice. More importantly, it is not just a matter of Japan, but a worldwide problem. 

People make extreme choices when they think that they cannot handle the situation they are facing. This kind of choice leads our lives to an unwanted direction. Whether we want it or not, the choice bears responsibility. As this book shows through the vanished people, achieving freedom by escaping from the past ironically leads a person to stay in the past. So, do not avoid making choices in everyday life. All those choices come together and shape your life.



Success is not final, failure is not fatal:

it is the courage to continue that counts.

-Winston Churchill (1874~1965)

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